Ahh Coffee!!! I love coffee with a passion! I can’t imagine living in a world without good coffee!
While it’s true that I have fairly high standards for the coffee I drink, when I’m lost in an early morning haze, and struggling to function, I’ll gratefully accept instant coffee, as long as it has some caffeine in it. But later in the day I’ll risk going without any coffee, if my only choice is “burnt” coffee… the stuff that’s been sitting on a warmer for several hours, smells like dirty sweat socks, and turns grey when you put cream in it! Ugh!
The truth is that I’m addicted to caffeine. There are far worse things to be addicted to, but my caffeine addiction is an addiction all the same, and when I’m cut off, I soon experience withdrawal symptoms that are physical as well as mental and emotional.
Without any coffee, within 24 hours I begin to feel tired and lethargic, and somewhat irritable. My ability to concentrate and mentally focus is mildly impaired. After three days without any coffee, I get painfully pounding headaches, I feel very fatigued, and I have a very hard time concentrating. I also become increasingly bad tempered, and prone to loud outbursts of anger, which is not normal behavior for me.
After six days without caffeine, well, you don’t wanna know me… My personality begins to disintegrate and I become impossible to live with. Many years ago, I attempted to stop drinking coffee completely, after my doctor suggested this might be good for my health. It wasn’t good for my health and it was terrible for my home life, as evidenced by my wife at the time, who was so infuriated by trying to live with the raging beast that I had become, that she launched a coffee mug at my head while shrieking “Drink some fucking COFFEE!!! Cause I can’t LIVE with you LIKE THIS!!!”
After changing doctors and resuming my regular coffee consumption, I was once again the good natured, lovable and (relatively) easy to get along with guy that I was before this terrible mistake happened, which was never again voluntarily repeated.
But there’s still worse things to get addicted to than caffeine, and things definitely do not go better with “Coke”. No one has ever done a lengthy prison term for possession of caffeine, or ended up in financial ruin because of an out of control caffeine habit. Colombian drug lords do not mass murder rival gangs to control coffee distribution. Compared to Pablo Escobar, Juan Valdez is a pretty nice guy.
But there is another downside with coffee for me, because it tends to keep me awake and cause me a moderate degree of insomnia. Some folks have suggested that I drink decaf. This makes about as much sense to me as drinking non alcoholic whiskey. I mean, what’s the point?
“Cummon baby… just because this whiskey is non alcoholic and I’ve taken a life long vow of celibacy, that doesn’t mean we can’t still party…”
Without the buzz, coffee is just another boring hot beverage to me… I’d rather have a cup of soup.
My all time favorite coffee is Kona coffee, which is grown only on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, and nowhere else in the world. Kona is the one of the smoothest, most delicious coffees you’ll ever drink, and it will light up your central nervous system like Time Square on New Years Eve! Kona is not for everyone… If you are a decaf drinker, forget it. If a lot of caffeine makes you nervous and irritable, then don’t try it. But if you enjoy a good caffeine buzz, then you’ve got to try it!
Kona is also very expensive, and 100% pure Kona coffee has become almost impossible to find on the shelf at local retailers in the continental U.S. This is because in the early 1990s Kona coffee sellers got in trouble when it was discovered that inexpensive coffee beans grown in Latin America were being passed off and sold as pure Kona coffee by certain coffee wholesalers. (I’m sure that Juan Valdez had nothing to do with it!)
What some local retailers do sell here in the continental US is labeled “Kona Blend” and not worth wasting your money on, since Kona Blend is legally allowed to contain as little as only 10% real Kona coffee mixed with much cheaper and inferior types of coffee. Most coffee retailers, including Starbucks, no longer sell 100% Kona Coffee because they can’t compete with the lower prices that Hawaiian wholesalers can sell pure Kona for online, direct to the consumer.
How much does pure Kona coffee cost? I don’t get it very often, because it is expensive, but to buy it online, it runs about $30.00 to $45.00 a pound, depending on the seller. If you want to check out this madness for yourself, visit this website: http://konacoffee.com/
The last time my wife and I were in Hawaii, we went to a Kona Cafe’ store and bought half a pound. We tried before we bought, both drinking a 16 oz cup first. Believe me, it was the real deal. It was really fun stopping in at this place. The guy behind the counter clearly believed in his product, and was definitely “under the influence” because he gave us a rapid fire multi-word sales pitch for the delights of Kona. (As if I needed to be sold!) Sitting at a table, drinking our high octane brew, we watched some of his regular customers come in to make their buys. They all had one thing in common: They were very animated, and talked at a speed of 90 miles an hour. Lol!
We had been scuba diving that morning, and we were both feeling a little “narced” – a divers’ expression for “nitrogen narcosis” the mild euphoria sometimes experienced as a side effect of nitrogen dissolved in the blood stream under pressure at depth. Getting pleasantly “narced” is not the same as decompression sickness or “the bends” which is a very serious and potentially life threatening condition.
But feeling happily and harmlessly narced, in combination with an intense Kona coffee buzz… well that made the rest of our morning a real pleasure.
But being a coffee addict can be a real problem if you travel to a part of the world where there is no good coffee. Some of the best islands in the Caribbean for tropical scuba diving don’t have any good coffee. Bonaire is a scuba divers’ tropical vacation dream come true. But the only coffee there is instant, tastes like weak tea, and contains hardly any caffeine at all. No wonder everyone and everything moves so slowly in Bonaire! These people are all seriously decaffeinated! But a big exception is Jamaica, where they grow “Blue Mountain Coffee” (among other things) which will put a smile on any real coffee drinker’s face!
I first discovered the hazards of the decaffeinated islands of the Caribbean when my wife and I traveled with another couple to the Turks and Caicos Islands, and there was no good coffee there.
For the most part, we had a wonderful time there, but by day three I was experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms. So was my friend Ken, who was also a big coffee drinker. Our wives, Jean and Lori were happily unaffected by this problem. It made him and I somewhat irritable, but seemed to affect me more severely. I tried very hard to keep a lid on my temper, but the dive operation we were with, was pushing all my buttons the wrong way. I’m really not an overly critical person, and of the numerous times through all the years that I’ve been tropical diving, this was one of only two dive operations that I’ve had serious problems with.
The main reason we picked the Turks and Caicos to begin with, was their reputation for incredible wall diving… A wall dive is like diving an underwater cliff, with amazing coral formations all over it, and divers often see large open ocean species of fish like Tarpon, very big Groupers, Giant Baracuda, Manta Rays, and even the occasional large shark.
But the dive operation told us on the first day we were there to dive, that we wouldn’t be doing much wall diving, cause one of their dive boats was in dry dock for major repairs. The walls were some distance away, and without the extra boat, they couldn’t schedule wall dives. Had I known this ahead of time, we would have never booked this trip at this particular resort.
The first thing to really piss me off, was the way that we were told this… One of the dive guides smirked at us, as if he was enjoying the prospect of our disappointment, and said “One of our dive boats is sick…” He talked to us like we were a bunch of small children, with an arrogant, condescending attitude, and a sarcastic smile. This irritating attitude was there in almost the entire dive crew, every day we were with them. I don’t need people to kiss up to me, but even just a little respect, and not being talked down to, would be nice.
It didn’t take long for me to notice that they had another boat, but they used it only for training new divers for resort dive certifications, which costs a lot more money for the people who sign up, and makes the resort more money than taking experienced divers out to the walls. It was pretty clear what their number one priority was, and it wasn’t our satisfaction.
The diving was OK, but not what we had come for. And with each day that I went without a good cup of coffee, the more dangerous my mood became. We got only one wall dive trip that week, and only because two couples paid extra money to have their dives video taped, so the dive operation made the time to finally take us out to a wall. The two wall dives were great, but only reminded me that this is what we had been led to believe we’d be doing everyday, and it wasn’t happening.
I finally lost my self control on our sixth day out, when as I suited up, one of the dive crew ordered me to take off my dive gloves, “because we can’t have you grabbing everything down there, can we?” I looked at him with rising anger, and said that I respected the reef as much as anyone did, and I had no intention of grabbing anything down there. The gloves were just a precaution in case I accidentally put my hand down on fire coral, which can be very painful. He smiled that smug and sarcastic smile, and said, “Well then, that means that without the gloves, you’ll try harder to not touch anything!”
Now my self control was gone… I lunged forward, bumping him in the chest and growled that I’d make a deal with him: I’d dive without my gloves, but if I was stung or burned by anything, the first thing I’d do once I got back on the boat, was to punch his lights out! Unless he wanted to just start right now! I won’t describe the rest of the scene, except to say that although we were quickly separated and no serious blows were exchanged, it was pretty ugly and my wife was not impressed.
So now when I go anywhere, where the coffee supply is in doubt – I bring my own. I have a complete coffee kit, including one cup funnel filter holders, and a small electric immersion water heater to boil water. All I need is fresh water and I can make my kind of coffee anywhere. (except in airport terminals, or on the plane, of course!) And because of this extra preparation, I am a much happier person, and the world is a safer place…